At the end of our street we were pleased to stumble across something we had been planning on searching out – a village on stilts over the water.
Small houses, a temple and a shop or two line the boardwalks that are used by pedestrians and motorcyclists alike. Although you’d expect bicycles to come to grief in the cracks between the planks, there were plenty of them about too.
It was fascinating to sneak another peek into some people’s lives, whose experience is so different to our own. An elderly gentleman sat on his doorstep, cigarette dangling from his mouth. I asked if I could take his photo – he went to remove his smoke, but then dropped his hand and left it there. The photo was exactly as I had found him.
Another old lady sat on her “verandah”. Literally. No chair, no stool, no cushion, no porch swing. Just the dusty floorboards. In fact, in a few of the houses I saw people lying on the floor with just a pillow, and in others there were pillows stacked up against the wall. In one, a baby boy lay on the floor wearing only a t-shirt. Grandma was cooing over him. His square muslin nappies were drying in the slight breeze at the side of the house, hanging over the rubbish-filled water.
Along a bit further, a boy leaned over a “gate” in a doorway, looking inside to televised brightness.
Just inside the front door of yet another house was silhouetted an elderly lady in a wheelchair. I wondered if she gets out much. Is there someone to push her chair over the uneven boards? I guess it would be *possible* – wheelchairs aren’t too different to the cart full of steaming food that someone was pushing from house to house, food presumably for sale. (Oh yes, we saw huge trays of cooked rice drying out in the sun too).
Nearby was another young mum with her four month old baby boy, and Grandma sweeping out the front room. I would have liked to have been able to sit down with her and chat.
At the very end of the pier was a sun-browned gnarled wiry man with a chest full of tattoo. He has a boat, which takes drinking water out to the big ships. At least we think that’s what he said! His uncle (or would that be “uncle”?) owns another boat. We could not work out what he does with it, but we do know it’s not fishing. Giving up on that conversation, they turned to the usual “12345678 very very good” one. For some reason – and this pair was no exception – people often like to work out which child is Number One, which is Number Two etc etc all the way to Baby Number Eight. I wonder why. Could be nothing more than co-incidence. Or perhaps there is a reason. Most likely our visit to these parts will be too fleeting to find an answer, but I have lodged away the question in my mind to ask someone should the opportunity arise.
Tags: children, intergenerationalism, parenting, postcard: Malaysia